While hanging with Kim Orton, Giovanna Angle & Jon Alba on The Wives of Wrestling Podcast, Ronda Rousey talked a lot about the response she gets from fans, and her relationship with her audience throughout her combat sports/sports entertainment career.
Rousey says meeting, marrying, and starting a family with Travis Browne helped her to stop focusing on online feedback. She also discussed how desire for approval is a basic human trait, “we’re social creatures, and wanting to be in good social standing,” so we’re not thrown out of our communities.
It’s clearly something the UFC Hall of Famer’s thought about a lot. Those thoughts were on display when Alba asked how she gets feedback on her WWE work:
“I don’t really need to know what people think about my work. it’s kind of like if you go to art gallery and the artist is there like, ‘I threw this paint at this fucking thing.’ They don’t want to stand there and explain what their paint splat means. They don’t care what other people think of their paint splat. They were feeling their thing, and splatted their paint, and it’s there for you to make of it what you will. And I don’t think really how it’s received matters too much.
“I guess the feedback I get is like a live audience. And there’s a lot of time where what you’d think is coming online and what the live audience is expressing are two opposite things. Case in point, Royal Rumble. I left as a heel and was getting booed out of every stadium. I was like ‘Okay,’ that’s what I assumed everyone thought, and I was still a heel, and any interviews I gave at any time I was talking shit on the fans, being in character for in case I come back, and that’s what I assumed I would come back to. And when it ended up being not that reaction, I was really, really surprised. I was almost too guarded to let them make me happy in that moment. But I don’t know if I would have thought otherwise by looking at comments or anything else. So whatever the live audience is leaving with is what I’m assuming people feel like in general because the internet is not a good sample.”
I don’t know that all artists are as uninterested in the interpretation of their work as Rousey believes, but that feels like a telling example of how Ronda wishes she could approach her own art. Instead, she’s attuned to at least the live audience’s reaction, where a positive response can still make her happy — even though she wants to not need to know what they think about her or what’s she’s doing.
The quote also includes Rousey claiming her stance toward WWE’s audience while she off for two-and-a-half years after WrestleMania 35 was a work. During that time, she did interviews calling wrestling fans “ungrateful” and blamed them for the company’s decision to release certain wrestlers.
If those remarks were “in character”, it seemed like good work. But it turned out to be in vain, since Ronda has been largely well-received since returning — and since WWE seemingly wanted her to play a babyface. It’s hard to know whether this is revisionist history now that she is getting cheers, though. She’s said it’s hard for her not to take fan response personally, and told a story about how Vince McMahon helped her get over being mad at the audience for booing her.
But maybe those were all part of the work? Let us know what you think, ungrateful Cagesiders.
You can listen to the entire Ronda Rousey episode of The Wives of Wrestling Podcast here.